Although ultimately cute, Table 19 is oversaturated with material, losing much of the humor; it becomes undeserving of the its stellar cast.
In Table 19, Eloise (Anna Kendrick) attends her ex-boyfriend’s sister’s wedding. She discovers she has been placed at the 19th table, described as the “table that should have known to RSVP regrets.” Like so many movies, the trailer uses the funniest scenes, falsely promising a smart, heartfelt comedy. The movie is cute, allowing the audience to leave with a warm satisfying ending. However, Table 19 is frustrating up until this point.
Right now, IMDb erroneously credits Mark and Jay Duplass as the screenwriters. The Duplass brothers did write the story, but director Jeffrey Blitz actually wrote the screenplay. This is clearly evident. This story could have made a strong movie if the Duplass brothers actually wrote it. Their “mumblecore” prowess is an attribute much needed in this script. Blitz performs a poor imitation of this style.
If Table 19 entered a couple more rounds of rewrites, many of the problems would be eradicated. Large chucks of dialogue just needed to be cut out to make this movie much more tolerable. Many of the jokes in Table 19 become simply unfunny, most for one of two reasons. First, many of the jokes last too long. The point was made far before the joke ends, making it tedious. Second, although almost the inverse, the punch line often comes too late. It is clear exactly where the joke is going, but it takes too long to actually get there, losing the audience’s interest. In general, many of the jokes were entirely predictable.
This is not to say that Table 19 is not at all humorous. Clearly from the trailer there definitely are some funny lines. The movie does an exceptional job with a handful of absurd jokes. However, many of these jokes did not land with most of the audience. Some were really clever, strange inserts, but almost too strange for many audience members, failing to resonate actually as a joke. However, many landed with great results.
The trailer for Table 19 seemed to wholly highlight the comedic aspects. However, the movie is much more dramatic than expected. It often loses control of the tone, not knowing how to properly balance the two genres. Far too many times, it compensates by making someone fall to lighten up a serious scene. This probably could have been fixed simply with more natural dialogue. As it is, it feels like 90 minutes of declarations. This is where the Duplass brothers’ skill would have been useful.
For what they are given, the cast does a commendable job. This should be a given with such a stellar cast, and they do manage to salvage the movie, making it watchable. Anna Kendrick does an excellent job. As the main character, she holds much of the emotional drive and she deftly transitions between the comedy and the drama, to the best of what she is given. The character is not much of a stretch from many of her previous roles, yet she still gives an equal performance. June Squibb also stands out in a character that makes many unexpected turns. Essentially all the other characters at the table feel a little more flat, forcing in story to merit the presence of the cast. Yet, they still manage to give strong performances.
However, notably Wyatt Russell’s Teddy is so weak, that the performance cannot even be saved, though it does not seem to be his fault. The character is shrouded in poor writing, which is able to conceal the main successful plot-twist of the movie. As many of the jokes are predicable, so is the movie as a whole. Possibly unintentionally, Table 19 telegraphs most of its surprises. Everything that happens is basically said in the dialogue earlier in the movie. It is not deftly planting these ideas, but shoving it in the audience’s face. Some of the most significant plot points are obvious over half an hour before it happens.
Very little unfolds naturally in Table 19. Although the plot is infuriatingly predicable, there are unexpected revelations about the characters. One of the characters introduces the idea of being a detective, which starts off endearing. However, this is taken to an extreme. For characters so self-centered they are unrealistically observant noticing minutia to unveil shocking secrets. This seems to exist only for shock value, stunting actual character development.
Overall, Table 19 is enjoyable, yet overwhelmingly unfulfilling. What could have been an endearing character-driven comedy, turned too melodramatic. This wasted potential is incredibly disappointing, yet still somewhat worthwhile for the performances by the cast of this caliber.